One of my last posts was right before I left for Philmont Boy Scout Ranch in Cimmeron, New Mexico with Tucker and his scout troop. I decided to post some photos of the trip and leave a quick synopsis of that adventure...
I wasn't able to blog while I was there, or I would have. But I did "write" a journal. Yes, it is hard to believe that I did actually write and I did it almost everyday. I went back and reread all of my journal entries the other night. Let's just say it was a very interesting read for me.
We headed to Colorado Springs, Colorado for a few days to acclimate to the change in altitude. West Chester is about 600 ft. elevation, Colorado Springs is around 5,000 feet and Philmont Base camp is about 6,600 ft. elevation. As you can imagine, we definitely noticed the change in Colorado. Garden of the Gods is full of hiking trails and I did notice a difference in my breathing while we were there.
Our sight seeing included riding a Cog Rail Train up to the top of Pikes Peak. It's about an hour and 15 minutes up the mountain. You are encouraged to drink plenty of water since altitude sickness is caused by dehydration. So, drink water we did. What they don't tell you about is the physiological change that occurs to your body during the ascent up the mountain. Let's just say your bladder shrinks considerable, like to the size of a pea. Needless to say, there were many, many people on that train that were on the verge of embarrassment by the time our train finally got to the top of the mountain. I was one of them. There was snow on top of Pikes Peak and we did engage in a small snow ball fight. The air is definitely "thinner" up there. It was also, cold, cold, cold!!!!
I would have to say that the Garden of the Gods was the most spectacular sight I have ever seen. We spent several hours in the park, hiking and climbing rocks. I can't say enough about the beauty of the area. It's a "must see" for anyone!
Upon arrival at Philmont on June 19, we were put through a series of information gathering sessions before we actually started hiking on the 20th. I will say that during that first night, I wondered what in the devil I was doing there. Traveling with testosterone overloaded boys is quite the challenge. It's safe to say that if I would have had transport, I would have probably driven straight to the airport. But I did not have transportation, so I stayed.
Before we left base camp on the 20th, we had to weigh our backpacks. My pack weighed in at 53 pounds. YOWSA! Needless to say, we had to redistribute some weight. I ended up with about 43 pounds. Tucker's was about the same, but he only weighed about 95 pounds at the time.
The first few days on the trail were very challenging. There were times when I wondered what I was doing and why I was doing it. But I pushed through those moments and I'm glad I did. We did so many fun things; pole climbing, rock climbing, black powder rifle shooting, 3-D archery, conservation, fly fishing and panning for gold. We did all of that and were only on the south part of the Ranch. Philmont is approximately 137,000 acres of land. So there is much more to see and do. Our entire trek was a little over 70 miles when you do all the side hikes.
I was surprised at the unspoiled splendor of the entire ranch. The scouts do an amazing job maintaining Philmont. It really was beautiful. They say when you leave Philmont, if you turn around and look back, then you will return some day. Those first few days, I would have never thought I would look back. But as we drove away from the ranch, I couldn't help but to gaze back at the "Tooth of Time" and sigh. Yes, beautiful, peaceful, tranquil and unspoiled. I would like to return with Tucker's troop in the summer of 2009. Hopefully they will have a spot for me.
Enjoy the few photos that I culled out of the more than 700 that I took:
These properties are donated and dedicated to the Boy Scouts of America for the purpose of perpetuating faith, self-reliance, integrity and freedom - principles used to build this great country by the American Pioneer.So that these future citizens may, through thoughtful adult guidance and by the inspiration of nature, visualize and form a code of living to diligently maintain these high ideals and our proper destiny.
Waite Phillips - December 1941